Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology


School Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (xv, 203 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Amanda B. Nickerson

Committee Members

Deborah K. Kundert, David N. Miller


aggression, defensive self-esteem, narcissism, self-compassion, self-esteem, threatened egotism, Self-esteem in young adults, Defensiveness (Psychology), Aggressiveness, Compassion, Narcissism, College students

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology | Personality and Social Contexts


This study sought to expand upon existing literature pertaining to feelings toward oneself and aggressive behavior. Specifically, global self-esteem, as well as two specific subsets of self-esteem, defensive self-esteem and narcissistic self-esteem, were examined as predictors of aggressive behavior. Additionally, the relationship between aggression and self-compassion, a recently introduced self-construct moderately correlated with self-esteem, was investigated. College students from a large Northeastern University were invited via email or through a brief classroom presentation to participate in this online study. A total of 181 students completed five surveys that were useable for data analyses: Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (SES; Rosenberg, 1989), Self-compassion Scale (SCS; Neff, 2003), Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI; Raskin & Terry, 1988), Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale (MCSD; Crowne & Marlowe, 1960), and Aggression Questionnaire (AQ; Buss & Warren, 2000). A series of hierarchical regression analyses were used to determine if aggressive behavior varied as a function of self-esteem, self-compassion, narcissism, and defensive self-esteem. Findings revealed that there was a positive relationship between global self-esteem and aggression, such that it accounted for 11.4% of the variance. When self-compassion was entered into the equation, results indicated that self-compassion had a unique contribution to aggression, accounting for 4.3% additional variance. This relationship was inverse, revealing that higher levels of self-compassion predicted lower levels of aggressive behavior. Defensive self-esteem was unexpectedly found to be related to lower levels of self-esteem, whereas narcissistic self-esteem and narcissism and self-compassion were not significant predictors. Findings suggest teaching self-compassionate skills could be a useful component of comprehensive interventions intended to decrease the occurrence of aggression.